Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA review

The Chromebook Flip C100PA is a versatile new model from Asus that promises much in the way of portability and power. Recently we’ve seen offerings such as the Acer R11 Chromebook boast both laptop and tablet modes, but the C100PA Flip adds to this a rather important factor - portability. Asus says it's the first 10in convertible Chromebook, and here's our Chromebook Flip C100PA review. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2016.

Also see: Best Black Friday Laptop Deals

See also: Best Chromebooks 2016

Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA Review: Price

With the C100PA still being a new product, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of discounts off the recommended £249.99 price. The best deal we could find was from Littlewoods, which had the device on sale for £239.99, which would save you £10. For a touchscreen laptop with solid performance and a long battery life we think the price is justified, but if you want something a little cheaper, and with a bigger screen, the Acer R11 currently available at Currys for £209 is a good alternative. 

Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA Review: Design

There are many things you can say about Chromebooks: they’re inexpensive, simple, and surprisingly capable. One statement you don’t often hear is that they’re gorgeous, but in the case of the Asus C100PA this is most definitely true. From the the thin, sleek lines, to the diminutive size and elegant design, this little laptop is a thing of beauty.

Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA review

Comparisons with Apple’s Macbook range are inevitable, as the aluminium casing and black screen bezels owe much to the California company’s style choices. There are a few noticeable differences between those more expensive machines and the C100PA, mainly linked to the size of the device. With dimensions of 263 x 182 x 16 mm, the chassis is compact, allowing only enough space for a 10.1in screen.

This is secured to the main body by a large hinge that can be adjusted all the way back to 360 degrees, placing the screen against the back of the keyboard. The need for such lithe behaviour lies in the touchscreen display which can turn the Chromebook into a simple tablet. Usually the weight and bulk of a transforming laptop makes the tablet mode nothing more than a cumbersome trick, but as the C100PA is small and light (0.9kg) this feature works better than you might think.

The same can’t always be said for the onscreen keyboard, which has a tendency to be too sensitive and detect false positives. This means that typing can become frustrating as random letters or numbers appear. Of course you can simply flip the device back into a laptop mode to correct this, but it seems a bit of a shame to have to resort to that. Navigating websites is perfectly fine, and positioning the screen at other angles (which the keyboard inverted to act as a stand) makes the C100PA a decent platform for media consumption.

The physical keyboard is smaller than full size, which can feel a little cramped at first. In spite of this the keys are well spaced and respond confidently under the fingers. After a short adjustment period we found it easy to type quickly and accurately, even for extended periods. Another bantam appointment is the trackpad. This thin, tiny surface gives the initial impression of being far too small, but such is the quality of both the construction and drivers that it never actually felt lacking in any way. Multi-touch gestures are a firm favourite in ChromeOS, and on the C100PA these are executed without issue, plus there is the bonus of being able to tap the screen if you prefer.

Despite the small frame, Asus has managed to incorporate a decent amount of ports into the device. On the right flank you’ll find two USB 2.0 ports (sadly no 3.0 options), plus apertures for micro HDMI, micro SD cards, and a combination microphone/headphone jack. The left side is less well blessed, with just the proprietary charging port, accompanied by power and volume buttons. It’s a pleasant, clean package, which will no doubt turn a few heads while also slipping comfortably into a bag or backpack without adding bulk or heft. Always good.

Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA Review: Performance

At the heart of the C100PA beats a 1.8GHz Rockchip Quad-Core RK3288C Processor, aided by a Mali T764 integrated GPU, 4GB of RAM, and 16GB of eMMC storage. There is another version of the device available that comes with only 2GB of RAM, but these days it’s definitely a good idea to move up to larger capacities as the web becomes increasingly visual and places greater demands on device.

Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA review

In general we found the 4GB model zippy and solid, even with multiple tabs running. Webpages opened quickly, images loaded without much delay, and even with music streaming in the background we didn’t notice any significant slowdown or stuttering as we went about our business. Benchmarking the device returned an average score of 803.3 on Sunspider 1.0.2, and 41.43 on Jetstream, both of which prove that the C100PA is a capable performer.

The touchscreen is a handy addition to the overall package, giving quick access to clicking links, on-screen buttons, or for scrolling pages without having to use the trackpad. The display itself is bright and detailed, running at a 1280x800 resolution. It may be too small for some, but as an everyday computer that you carry around with you, we think the C100PA is a delight. ChromeOS does have some useful features, such as the general zoom level of the screen, so even those with fading eyesight can have the content of a page scaled up without losing the formatting.

Certainly one demographic that the device appeals to is children. Even in an our environment with multiple, more expensive, laptops available, the young ones who caught sight of the C100PA were immediately taken by its size and style. Chromebooks are often positioned as second devices, or aimed at children, and judging by our experience we’d say this could prove quite popular in that role.

As with pretty much all Chromebooks the C100PA comes with 100GB of free storage on Google Drive, for a period of two years. This should be plenty of space for photos, documents, and any other data you wish to backup to the cloud. ChromeOS has matured nicely in recent years, with offline functionality now baked into the system so you can still work on documents when you don’t have an internet connection. It’s not quite as powerful as a standard PC, and if you want to use specific software you’ll need to check it works on Chromebooks before you buy, but for most users these remain very attractive machines.

Battery life was surprising, as the C100PA racked up over nine hours in our continuous video test. This sort of capacity, not to mention when paired with the portability factor, makes for quite a potent combination.

Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA

Asus Chromebook Flip C100PA: Specs

  • 1.86 GHz Rockchip Quad-Core RK3288C Processor Integrated Rockchip® Mali T764 LPDDR3 MHz SDRAM, OnBoard Memory (2 GB or 4 GB) 10.1" 16:10 WXGA (1280x800)/Wide View Angle LED Backlight Glare panel with multi-touch 16GB eMMC Micro SDXC ) 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Bluetooth 4.1 support (on WLAN+ BT 4.1 combo card) 1 x COMBO audio jack 2 x USB 2.0 port(s) 1 x micro HDMI 1 x micro SD card HD Camera Built-in 2 Speaker(s) And Digital Microphone Output : 12 V DC, 2 A, Input : 100 -240 V AC, 50/60 Hz universal 262.8 x 182.4 x 15.6 mm (WxDxH) Weight 0.89 kg (with 2 cell battery)
  • 1.86 GHz Rockchip Quad-Core RK3288C Processor Integrated Rockchip® Mali T764 LPDDR3 MHz SDRAM, OnBoard Memory (2 GB or 4 GB) 10.1" 16:10 WXGA (1280x800)/Wide View Angle LED Backlight Glare panel with multi-touch 16GB eMMC Micro SDXC ) 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Bluetooth 4.1 support (on WLAN+ BT 4.1 combo card) 1 x COMBO audio jack 2 x USB 2.0 port(s) 1 x micro HDMI 1 x micro SD card HD Camera Built-in 2 Speaker(s) And Digital Microphone Output : 12 V DC, 2 A, Input : 100 -240 V AC, 50/60 Hz universal 262.8 x 182.4 x 15.6 mm (WxDxH) Weight 0.89 kg (with 2 cell battery)

OUR VERDICT

If you’re looking for an inexpensive convertible that doesn’t feel cheap, then the C100PA should go to the top of your list. In Chromebook terms it’s one of the best we’ve used, but only if you’re happy with a small screen. Road warriors will appreciate the long battery life and lightweight chassis, while everyone else could soon find themselves beguiled by its design aesthetics and no fuss performance.

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